Judge temporarily halts Trump admin from deporting reunited families

Judge temporarily halts Trump admin from deporting reunited families
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A federal judge on Monday temporarily halted the deportations of families that have been recently reunited after being separated by the Trump administration.

San Diego-based Judge Dana Sabraw granted a request from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) at the top of a status hearing on the administration’s efforts to reunite children over 5 years old with their parents.

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ACLU attorneys said the delay was necessary because of “persistent and increasing rumors — which Defendants have refused to deny — that mass deportations may be carried out imminently and immediately upon reunification.”

Sabraw gave the government one week to file a brief opposing the request.

The ACLU argued that the week would be necessary for parents to have time to fully consider the decision whether to have their children deported along with them.

“A one-week stay is a reasonable and appropriate remedy to ensure that the unimaginable trauma these families have suffered does not turn even worse because parents made an uninformed decision about the fate of their child,” the ACLU wrote.

On Friday, the administration identified a total of 2,551 children ages 5-17 in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) who have been separated from their parents after being apprehended for crossing into the U.S. illegally. HHS is facing a July 26 deadline to reunite parents with those children.

On Monday, HHS official Jonathan White said the administration can’t find the parents of 71 of those children.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has 1,609 parents in custody, White said, and HHS has determined that 1,317 of them are “fit” parents who will not be a danger to the children, and can be reunited. Of those parents cleared by HHS, ICE has also cleared 918 of them, White said.

HHS on Friday outlined a plan to expedite the reunifications, but was excoriated by Sabraw who said the agency was using the safety of children as a cover for slow-walking reunifications.

In response, HHS updated its plan to say it no longer needed to use DNA testing to verify parentage, like it did with children under 5, because the older children have better language skills and can communicate with government agents.

HHS officials previously said they wouldn’t be able to meet the court’s deadline for reunification, and if they tried to expedite the process, children would be at risk of being placed with people who weren’t their parents or people who were dangerous criminals.

Lydia Wheeler contributed.